Giovanna Marini was born in Rome into a family of musicians, and she graduated in classical guitar from the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia. She met a group of intellectuals in the 1970s (including Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italo Calvino, Roberto Leydi, Gianni Bosio and Diego Carpitella) and discovered social singing, taking part in the formation of "Nuovo Canzoniere Italiano" and singing in groups formed for the occasion. From 1964, with her "Bella Ciao" – a political and social show which made a big stir – she contained her work on collecting traditional songs that were unique in their genre, collaborating with the Istituto Ernesto De Martino. In the same period, she composed ballads for guitar and voice and performed live continuously. She founded the Scuola Popolare di Testaccio in Rome in 1974, and she found musicians with whom she could play (Giancarlo Schiaffini, Michele Iannaccone ed Eugenio Colombo), for whom she would write "La grande madre impazzita" (1979), which marked a crossroads in her output. In 1976, she created the Quartetto Vocale for which she composed the "Cantate" and which whom she toured in Italy and abroad. Concerts by Quartetto are the fulfilment of all her crucial experience: research on traditional songs, instrumental and vocal composition, writing, teaching, individual and collective writing. Her artistic work also includes the teaching of ethnomusicology applied to songs from the oral tradition, her works for the cinema for directors such as Loy, Maselli, Pietrangeli and Gianikian and in dozens of theatrical collaborations alongside the likes of Pippo Delbono, Umberto Orsini and Ascanio Celestini. With her students, she has taken part in dozens of study trips to listen to and record songs from the oral tradition still present in religious and secular holidays throughout Italy.